It Was A bumpy Road, but Democracy is Worth Fighting For!
The democratic transition has been difficult for Tunisia following the 2011 ‘Arab Sping’ revolts. But with common consensus to realize the goal, the hope for democracy is not a far-fetched dream at all. It has been a rocky path, but Tunisia’s zest for democracy has been instrumental for other countries in the region to realize that change is possible.
Deputy Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken today outlined Tunisia’s gains amid hurdles, including opposition to progress and opposition to freedom.
With its extraordinary gains, Tunisia is hailed as an example of democratic change for a country still facing challenges following the 2011 Arab spring revolts.
Tunisia a Model to other People Seeking Reforms
According to Deputy Secretary Blinken, the Tunisian people were successful in negotiating a peaceful transition of power from a transitional government to a democratically elected government.
“They cast ballots in a free and fair election, choosing from more than 100 political parties. We have just two of them I can only think 100.” – Mr. Blinken
In December 2014, Tunisians exercised the freedom of suffrage as they cast their votes in the presidential runoff election. The election completes the country’s transition to full democracy five years after the ‘Arab Spring’ that ended the leadership of the autocratic Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.
In addition, the government drafted a new inclusive constitution that protects the inalienable rights of every Tunisian citizen. Those rights include the right to exercise the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, the freedom of religion and protection of human rights.
In January 2014, Tunisia’s parliament adopted the new constitution, the first since the end of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s administration. The constitution was approved by an overwhelming 200 of Tunisia’s 216 National Constituent Assembly members.
This was an historic milestone as it guarantees equality for men and women for the first time in Tunisian history.
In its constitution, the Article 45 requires the government to recognize equality for women in all legislative assemblies in the country. This made history as well.
The most striking image was the commitment for change was evident when the Tunisian flag was raised and the members of the parliament embraced each other inside the chamber.
Finally, what Tunisians are enjoying now was not possible without the admirable efforts of the civil society.
“They have created space for civil society to flourish.” – Mr. Blinke
In a surprising change, for two consecutive years, Freedom House has categorized Tunisia as free, the first Arab country to be recognized in this way.
Thus, Tunisia has shown to the world the importance of civil society groups in the protection of peace and stability among flourishing democracies in the world.
Years of repression, corruption, and mismanagement tormented the Tunisian society. That’s why on January 14th in 2011, the Tunisian people marched to the streets and called for former dictator Ben Ali’s regime to step down. Then, the uprising eventually started and the rest is history. Democracy is now in the hands of the Tunisian people.
Tunisians showed the world both sides of their resilience as well. First, the Tunisians successfully ousted the Ben-Ali regime which ruled from 1987 to 2010. Now, democracy is finally in the hands of the Tunisian people. The transition was not overnight but willpower for change made a difference.